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Failed freezer caused fire tragedy

A house fire that caused the death of a mother and her five children last year was caused when a freezer failed, a coroner has found.

Muna Elmufatish, 41, daughters Hanin Kua, 14, Basma, 13, Amal, nine, and sons Mustafa, five, and Yehya, two, died in the fire in September last year.

The inquest into their deaths at North London Coroner's Court in Barnet heard that the family were all asleep when the blaze engulfed their home in the early hours of September 24, 2011.

Coroner Andrew Walker found that all five died as a result of "inhalation of fire fumes".

The fire started when a capacitor adjacent to a compressor in a compartment in a freezer failed and caught fire.

The freezer was manufactured at time when the housing to the compressor and capacitor had been changed from a pressed steel to a plastic housing.

Had the compressor been housed in a pressed steel compartment it is likely the fire would not have reached the insulation.

The fire did reach the insulation and was fuelled by it - it spread upstairs where the family were.

– Coroner Andrew Walker issued a narrative verdict

Mr Walker also said that Muna Elmufatish had tried to save her children after she was woken by the fire. Only her husband Bassam Kua and his daughter Nur, 17, escaped the property in Neasden and they were treated in hospital. Bassam Kua, 52, braved the fire as he tried to save his family.

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Coroner's court hears father tried to rescue family

The flames were higher than my head. I then thought it was better to use the garden hose.

I saw my daughter Nur, who was 16. I thought she must have jumped from her bedroom window.

I saw blood on the side of her head.

I pulled her two or three metres to the side of the garden in case any one else jumped from the window.

I didn't care about the fire, I just wanted to get the children out.

I was shouting for my wife but she didn't answer.

I remember hearing an explosion or a loud bang.

I was in a blind panic. I went upstairs to try to find my family but I couldn't.

I think I repeated the process of running up and down and out of the house about four or five times.

I saw the fire brigade bringing out my son Mustafa, who was five years old.

I saw them pushing down on his chest trying to save him.

I told them the others were upstairs, and where were their ladders?

I kept asking about Mustafa, and after about 10 minutes or so they said Mustafa was dead.

– Coroner read out Bassam Kua's account to the court

Mr Kua said the garden hose was "useless" and he decided to try to go back upstairs to rescue his family, but had to feel around with his hands because he could no longer see.

He said that when the emergency services arrived he was in such a panic he refused medical treatment.

Coroner's court told parents tried to save children

Bassam Kua (centre).
Bassam Kua (centre). Credit: PA

Only Bassam Kua and his daughter Nur, 17, escaped the property in Sonia Gardens, Neasden, and they were treated in hospital.

The coroner read out a statement written by Mr Kua in the days after the fire, which started behind a chest freezer in the hallway of the four-bedroom semi-detached house.

The father stood in the witness box as the coroner read out his account to the court.

Mr Walker read: "The next thing I remember was Muna waking me up and the smoke alarm sounding.

"There was thick black smoke in the room."

He said the couple got up and ran downstairs to investigate.

"I felt my way around the room by feeling with my hand.

"She shouted that the fire was at the back of the freezer."

In the statement Mr Kua said he shouted at Muna to get the children while he would try to douse the flames with water."

Blaze father's tragic family search

A father who lost five of his children and his wife in a devastating house fire has described running up and down his burning home as he searched for his family.

Bassam Kua, 52, braved blinding smoke and raging flames as he tried to save his loved ones when the blaze ripped through their London home in September last year.

But he was unable to reach his wife Muna Elmufatish, 41, daughters Hanin Kua, 14, Basma, 13, Amal, nine, and sons Mustafa, five, and Yehya, two, who died in the fire.

The inquest into the deaths heard the family were asleep when the blaze engulfed their home in the early hours of September 24 2011.

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Fire death inquest

Flowers at the family home in Neasden where six people died Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

An inquest is due to begin into the death of a woman and her five children in Neasden in September last year. It's thought a faulty fridge freezer was to blame for starting the fire in which Muna Elmufatish, her three daughters and two sons were killed.

It's thought a faulty fridge freezer may have caused the fire Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Post-mortem examinations found that the six victims died from inhalation of fumes.

The children's father, Bassam Kua and their 16-year-old sister, Nur, escaped the fire at the property in Sonia Gardens, Neasden, but were treated in hospital.

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